Dettori takes it 'slowly' before Enable Oaks bid
Royal Ascot winners Rajasinghe, Sound And Silence and Atty Persse return to action at Newmarket's July meeting today, but it is the comeback of Frankie Dettori, who missed the Royal meeting with a shoulder injury, which will be most eagerly awaited by the sport.
Good though it was, Royal Ascot without Dettori is a little like Wimbledon without Roger Federer.
However, the jockey, who cracked his shoulder in a paddock fall at Yarmouth a month ago, is easing himself back into the plate with two rides, Denaar in the Arqana July Stakes and Wings Of Desire in the Princess of Wales's Stakes, as he prepares to partner Enable in Saturday's Irish Oaks at The Curragh.
"The bones did not move, so there was no need for surgery," explained Dettori. "I've been riding two lots a day for a week and I'm ready to start. It's been a fight, but I'm ready to come back and this is a stepping stone to Enable.
"I have a couple of rides in France on Sunday but I'm going to take it slowly, slowly, gradually building it up to the King George and Goodwood. I could have ridden six at Newmarket tomorrow, but I'm not ready for that."
The Ascot occasion got to Denaar, which made much of the running in the Coventry, and he should find the ambience of the July meeting less mind-blowing.
However, with Coventry winner Rajasinghe in the field and Windsor Castle winner Sound And Silence stepping up to six furlongs, a distance connections feel is within his compass, the Al Shaqab colt will need to be more relaxed.
Rajasinghe launched the career of local trainer Richard Spencer in no uncertain terms and the 28-year-old believes the colt has a favourite's chance today. "He has come out of Ascot well and, fingers crossed, he can take another step forward," said Spencer.
"He has a 3lb penalty, but he is a strong horse and is ridden out every day by my assistant, Johnny Bailey, who is on summer vacation from point-to-pointing - so, he's not light. In fact, he called it 'weight training' the other day, so Stevie Donohoe carrying an extra 3lb shouldn't make much difference.
"There was a bit of pressure before Ascot but only because I'd told the owners it would take a good one to beat him and they were on at fancy prices. It won't be a walk in the park but hopefully the others will be more worried about us." (© Daily Telegraph, London)